Washington Newsletter – August 2020

(Bureau of Land Management Photo)

BLM’s Move to Grand Junction is Official

On August 10, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed Secretary’s Order (SO) 3382 to formally establish the Headquarters Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Grand Junction, Colorado. The move ends the multi-year process proposed by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and supported by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).

“This relocation strengthens our relationship with communities in the West by ensuring decision makers are living and working closer to the lands they manage for the American people. This effort will also save a great deal of money that can be reinvested in our field operations,” said Secretary Bernhardt.

It is expected that most of the federal staff relocating to Mesa County from the nation’s capital will be on the job by the end of August.

Secretary Bernhardt Establishes Task Force to Implement GAOA

As a result of the recent passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt established the Great American Outdoors Act Coordination and Implementation Task Force to implement the Department of the Interior’s portion of the GAOA. The landmark conservation legislation will use royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling to provide up to $1.9 billion per year for five years to repair critical facilities and infrastructure in our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and American Indian schools. It will also permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $900 million per year to invest in conservation and recreation opportunities across the country. Preliminary conversations with the U.S. Forest Service with regard to the maintenance backlogs indicate that if done correctly, the backlog issue could eliminate the recreation backlog on the forest service landscape within five years.

The Secretary’s Order 3383 establishes the task force, which shall:

  1. Develop a strategy to maximize the impact of the Great American Outdoors Act. The strategy shall ensure a timely project proposal and review process that minimizes delay and ensures decisive action, cuts across Bureaus, and includes establishment and utilization of a centralized project management office;
  2. Identify an initial list of priority deferred maintenance projects that are ready to be implemented in Fiscal Year 2021 and provide the list to the Secretary of the Interior within 50 days of the date of this Order;
  3. Evaluate staffing needs and direct relevant Bureaus/Offices to initiate necessary hiring and recruitment efforts;
  4. Identify additional policies and/or revisions to existing policies or practices that are needed to maximize successful implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act;
  5. Develop best management practices for deferred maintenance projects; and
  6. Recommend such other actions as may be necessary to fulfill the goals of this Order.

SDNR Seeks Input On Proposed ATV/UTV Route in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking input on proposed plans for improved access to ATV/UTV routes and trails in and around the Northern Highland – American Legion State Forest. By enhancing access, the DNR could designate 1.4 miles of ATV/UTV routes on DNR roads within the state forest. DNR roads proposed for ATV/UTV route designation in the towns of Sugar Camp and Woodruff would, in conjunction with routes on local and county roads, contribute to a system of ATV/UTV routes through the forest that connects communities and provide additional recreation opportunities.

With more than 900 lakes and 236,000 acres within its boundaries, the Northern Highland – American Legion State Forest provides a variety of opportunities to outdoor recreation enthusiasts. The forest is spread across three counties near the towns of Woodruff, Minocqua, and Boulder Junction. The ATV/UTV routes are being planned through the master plan variance process. This variance proposal accompanies an October 2017 amendment to the recreation portion of the State Forest’s 2005 Master Plan and a subsequent variance approved in 2018. The 2017 amendment authorized up to 202 miles of ATV/UTV routes to be planned on existing DNR roads and trails. Approximately 51 miles have been previously planned. If this variance is approved, approximately 70 total miles of ATV/UTV routes have been planned in the Northern Highland – American Legion State Forest.

The public can review the draft variance, maps that show the proposed and previously planned routes, and submit comments here. Questions or comments should be submitted by September 11, 2020.

Questions or comments can also be submitted to Phil Rynish, DNR Property Planner, via email at Phillip.Rynish@wisconsin.gov, or mail at Wisconsin DNR; Attn: Phil Rynish; PO Box 7921; Madison, WI 53707-7921.

NOHVCC’s Webinars Available Online

NOHVCC is providing the opportunity for OHV enthusiasts to view past webinars. NOHVCC has covered a number of insightful topics that have been well received by the outdoor recreation community.

Click here to watch the videos (login required, but registration is free). You can also access the “Webinar Archive” on nohvcc.org through the hamburger menu at the top of the webpage.

States Continue to Increase Recreational Access

As states continue to reopen, they are increasing recreational access to roads, trails, picnic areas, restrooms, and wilderness. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to work with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and use a phased approach to increase access on a case-by-case basis. The following recreational area reopened in August:

  • Moreno Valley, CA – As fire crews continue to gain the upper hand on the 33,424-acre Apple Fire, incident commanders have determined there is no longer an immediate threat to users of the Pacific Crest Trail. Both the Bureau of Land Management California Desert District and San Bernardino National Forest reopened the trail on Friday, August 21. The existing closure that will be lifted is between the Cottonwood Trailhead, near the community of Whitewater, and Forest Road No. 1N01 (Pipes Canyon Road) on Onyx Summit.

According to BLM, dry conditions due to a lack of precipitation this spring, above normal temperatures, and mats of unburnt fuel from last year are resulting in an above-normal fire potential. BLM issued fire restrictions to the following areas:

  • Spokane, WAThe Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Spokane District has increased fire restrictions on public lands administered by the BLM and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) in eastern Washington. The fire restrictions order has been modified to prohibit discharging a firearm, except while engaged in lawful hunt pursuant to state, federal, or tribal law and regulations. The building, maintaining, attending or using a fire of any type, including charcoal briquette fires, is also now prohibited.
  • Monte Vista, CO Current and forecasted weather, coupled with dry conditions, have prompted the BLM’s San Luis Valley Field Office to again implement fire restrictions on BLM-managed lands in Alamosa, Rio Grande, Conejos, Costilla, and Saguache counties. In addition to the heightened risk for fires, increased fire activity in Colorado and beyond has limited the availability of firefighting resources in the region. Stage 1 fire restrictions went into effect on August 21, 2020 for BLM lands in these counties.
  • Canon City, CO Current and forecasted weather, coupled with dry conditions, have prompted the BLM’s Royal Gorge Field Office to again implement fire restrictions on BLM-managed lands in Lake, Chaffee, and Fremont counties. In addition to the heightened risk for fires, increased fire activity in Colorado and beyond has limited the availability of firefighting resources in the region. Stage 1 fire restrictions went into effect on August 19, 2020 in these three counties.
  • El Dorado Hills, CA – The Bureau of Land Management Mother Lode Field Office is increasing fire restrictions and temporary target shooting limitations for BLM-managed public lands in the Sierra Nevada foothills effective August 27, due to high fire danger. These seasonal restrictions are in addition to the year-round statewide fire prevention order, issued on April 28, and the initial fire restrictions issued by the Mother Lode Field Office on May 29, which will remain in effect until further notice.

BLM has issued temporary closures for:

  • Marina, CA Ord National Monument in Monterey County due to wildland fire danger. The closure became effective at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, August 19, and remains in effect until further notice.
  • Ukiah, CA The BLM-managed public lands within and adjacent to the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in Lake and Napa counties due to wildland fire danger. The closure is effective immediately and remains in effect until further notice.
  • Susanville, CA – The Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail to provide for firefighter access if needed to fight the Sheep Fire burning just south of Susanville. The closure extends from the Susanville Trailhead to the Devil’s Corral Trailhead and includes the Hobo Camp Day Use Area and the South Side Trail. Details are available in the closure order: https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/SheepFire_Closure_22Aug20.pdf. The closure will be in effect until danger from the Sheep Fire subsides.

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